The perfect soup for summer

If you’ve been following along, you may remember that I’ve shared several recipes for soup, including stuffed pepper soup potato soup with shrimp, and sausage and lentil soup.

However,with Memorial Day – and the unofficial start of summer – just around the corner, you may think soup season is over. Well, for most soups it is. But there is one exception: this delicious calm bake soup, which is perfect for summer. It has all of the ingredients of a delicious clam bake, except for the sand in your shorts. This recipe comes from Rachael Ray. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound kielbasa, diced
  • 1 ½ pounds small red or Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 to 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 rounded tablespoon seafood seasoning (recommended: Old Bay)
  • 3 cups frozen corn kernels
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 32 littleneck clams
  • Hot sauce, to taste
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced

Heat a large soup pot with extra-virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the kielbasa and brown for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, onions, celery, bay leaf, thyme, and salt and pepper and let the veggies soften up, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.ClamBakeSoupInPot

Pat shrimp dry and toss with a rounded tablespoon of seafood seasoning.

Add to your pot the corn, tomatoes and stock. Cover and bring to a boil. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and clams and cover. Cook until shrimp are pink and firm and the clams have opened up. It usually takes 5 to 6 minutes. Finish off the soup with a few drops – or more, if you like – of hot sauce and  lemon zest and juice.

This soup is almost like  having a clam bake at the beach. If you’re landlocked, like I am, eat it on your porch, close your eyes and imagine you’re in New England.

ClamBakeSoupDone

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Apricot and pecan granola bars

I love snacking. Really. I. Love. It. However, the foods I snack on have changed dramatically in the last several years. In the old days, I snacked on bags (yes, bags; don’t judge me) of potato chips and tubs of dip. Or pints of ice cream. Or chocolate-covered anything. But now I’m trying to be healthier because I. Want. To. Live.

The other day I tried making my own granola bars, and they were so delicious I had to share them in case you have realized that snacking on bags of greasy (albeit freakin’ delicious) chips and fattening dips isn’t really the way to go.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 2 tablespoons wheat germ

Preheat your oven to 300°. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the honey, brown sugar and salt and whisk together until smooth. Mix in the rolled oats, pecans, dried apricots and wheat germ. Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper, MixingGranolaMixand press your granola mix into the lined pan. Bake the bars for 30 minutes. Cool thoroughly then cut into bars.

Obviously, you don’t need to use pecans and apricots, but the combination is really delicious. I even noticed He Who Must Be Fed munching on one – and liking it. It really helped his sweet tooth when all of the chocolate chip cookies I made were all gone.BakedGranolaBars

The next time I make these I’d like to try walnuts with dried apples, but the combinations are almost endless: dried cranberries and pistachios, dried pineapple with a bit of coconut and macadamia nuts, dried strawberries with peanuts.

Use your culinary imagination. If you try a great combination, let me know.

 

Browned Butter Cake

He Who Must Be Fed bought me a new cookbook the other day and, as his culinary luck would have it, one of the first recipes I noticed as I was paging through was one for a browned butter cake. If you’ve been following along, you know that in our house we love butter, but brown butter holds a place of even higher esteem.KaneAndBrownButterCake

I probably don’t have to tell you that it was delicious and a huge hit with the entire family, including our grandson.

Ingredients:

For the cake

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 box of yellow cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

For the frosting

  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons milk

Heat your oven to 350°F. Melt the butter in 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking, stirring constantly and watching closely, 5-8 minutes or until butter just starts to turn golden. You’ll notice that it will also smells amazing. (I always want to dab a little behind my ear so I can smell that fantastic, but so far I’ve managed to resist the urge.) Remove from heat. Cool 15 minutes.

Combine 1/2 cup of the browned butter and all remaining cake ingredients in large bowl. Beat at low speed 30 seconds. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally, 2 minutes or until well mixed.

Pour batter into greased 13×9-inch baking pan. Bake 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely.

Combine remaining browned butter – be sure to get all the darkened tiny bits from the bottom of your saucepan — powdered sugar and vanilla in small bowl. Beat at medium speed, gradually adding enough milk for desired spreading consistency. Frost cooled cake.BrownedButterCake

 

Kid-Tested Macaroni and Cheese

My granddaughter is an itty bitty scrap of a thing, who, for a long time, ate itty bitty bites of food that never really amounted to a meal. At nearly 4, she’s becoming a better eater, though I haven’t really seen her chow down on anything, that is, until I saw her eat macaroni and cheese. We were having lunch at Applebee’s and while I was working my way through a burger that was bigger than my head, she was going to town on some Kraft macaroni and cheese.

So, the next time she stayed overnight with us, I knew what I was making for dinner. With no disrespect intended to the folks at Kraft, I was going to make real macaroni and cheese. Although, just to hedge my bets, I bought a box of Kraft just in case she didn’t like this.

I have made this recipe before, which calls for lobster and is heavenly. by the way, but this time I left out the seafood.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups grated gruyere cheese (12 ounces)
  • 2 cups grated extra-sharp cheddar (8 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)

Preheat the oven to 375° F. Add the oil to a large pot of boiling salted water, add the pasta and cook al dente according to the directions on the package. Drain well.
Heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t let it boil. In a large pot, melt 6 tablespoons of the butter and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk. Still whisking, add the hot milk and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt and the pepper and stir until the cheese melts. Stir in the cooked pasta. Pour into a 9×13 pan.MacAndCheeseIntoOven

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine with the bread crumbs and sprinkle on top. Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes until the sauce is bubbly and the pasta is browned on top.BakedMacAndCheese
BriarEatingMacAndCheeseWas it a success? Well, take a look. She obviously loved the creaminess of the sauce-covered pasta, the nutty bite of the Gruyere, the buttery crunch of the bread crumbs on top.

So, this recipe is officially kid tested. If you have one or two of your own, why not try it out?

Mother’s Day gift ideas for foodie moms

Psst … Mother’s Day is coming. It’s Sunday, May 11. If you haven’t gotten anything for your mom yet, you still have time. And, if your mom is a foodie, I have some ideas for you.

A cookbook.
Really. We foodies love them. And, since there are so many of them out there, you can choose one based on her style of cooking:

A subscription to a good food magazine.
If she’s truly a foodie, she loves reading about food and the people who make it, finding new recipes and discovering new ingredients to use:

High-tech kitchen gadgets.
Foodies love kitchen gadgets. If she also loves high tech stuff, she’ll probably enjoy receiving one of these high-tech kitchen gadgets  from Mashable.

Cook for her.
Lastly, and perhaps most important, make her a meal. I find that people are often intimidated and don’t want to cook for foodies because, well, foodies are usually great cooks. However, if your mom is a foodie, she’s probably always cooking. It’s time to give her a break. Plus, she’s your mom. She’ll love whatever you make. Trust me on this one.

Try one of these recipes for dinner. They’re all simple and delicious. And she’ll love you for it.

Or, just make her a sweet treat. These are all simple as well. And, she’ll love you for it.

I hope you and your mom have a great day. For all of my fellow foodie moms, Happy Mother’s Day.